Note: This blog will say a lot of unpleasant things like “DON’T” and “NO” and “NEVER EVER DO THIS.” Just remember it is all for the good of your pet, and for the improvement of your happy pet-housing abode. Both dogs and cats are intuitive and impressionable animals. They can sense moods and tones acutely, meaning we need to be very careful in how we communication with them. This is particularly true in regard to training, since we are teaching them to trust us and obey our commands. To keep order, good growth and positive rapport between you and your pet, be sure to avoid the below lists of training “DON’Ts.”

DON’Ts of Pet Training

DON’T ever try to teach your pet though punishment for their mistakes. This cannot be emphasized enough. Somewhere along the line, pet owners began rubbing a dog or cat’s nose in their own waste, or in the tomato paste they accidentally knocked off the counter. Your pet will only be confused about why you are so angry, and what on earth you are trying to show them the mess for. The only proper way to correct indoor eliminating, is to catch it before it happens or interrupt the incident and take them outside. Redirection is much more effective than punishment. This is includes “pet- spanking”; which leads me to my next point.

DON’T ever resort to physical punishment. This is how deep-seated fears and distrust of owners develops. By physically punishing your dog, you are implying that your word is not a sufficiently powerful command.   Hitting, spanking, and resorting to physical demonstrations of punishment inadvertently undermines your own authority. Don’t give in or lose control. If you said no, let that be enough. Put your dog outside if he is being disobedient. If your dog is biting, firmly hold the mouth shut (note: firmly, not painfully) and say “NO.” You want your dog to trust you and respect/obey your commands, not cower in fear whenever you enter a room. Never, ever hit your pet.

DON’T lose your temper or express frustration. Training can be both tiresome and taxing when a cat is not cooperating or a dog is easily distracted. This is a natural part of the process, but be careful not to vent out your frustration by yelling, foot-stamping, or engaging in other forms of release your temper takes. If you are starting to lose your cool, take a break and begin training later when you have had time to calm down.

DON’T train longer than about 20 minutes. If you want your cat to thrive and your puppy to achieve his goals, then keep a guard on your time. Working for longer than 20 minutes may cause your dog or cat to lose interest (bad), get distracted and forget what he has learned (very bad), or even become agitated and aggressive (worse)! Set your pet up to succeed by limiting the training times.

DON’T leave long intervals between training sessions. If your cat has just learned to roll over, or your dog has finally mastered how to fetch a beverage from the fridge, don’t wait a week to practice. Keep the task fresh in his mind, so that when you next have a training session, your pet will be sharp and ready to go! This is particularly important for special tricks; don’t let too much time pass before you practice solidifying those skills again.

DON’T EVER use a shock collar for abused pets. While shock collars may be necessary to correct the most aggressive and determined of dog breeds, it should be used sparingly in most cases. However, for dogs that display fearful behaviors or have had a history of being abused, training with a shock collar would be traumatic for them. Staying “gentle-but-firm” is the most effective way to work with emotionally fragile pets.

DON’T chase your pet if you are trying to get them to come to you. Hold your ground as the authoritative figure. If your dog or cat does not come right away or don’t respond accordingly, keep trying and wait until they do (unless they are running toward a street or other hazard).

DON’T give mixed commands. When an animal is working hard to remember a trick, or is practicing certain indoor behaviors, it can be detrimental to get differing signals or commands from other people. Make sure everyone in your house/family is on board with the rules. The off-limits places need to remain “no-go zones” whether you are home or not. The more consistent the rules are, the easier it will be for your pet to grasp them.

DON’T reward bad behavior. Do you feel sorry for your dog because he is having a hard time getting this trick down? Or is he just yapping incessantly until you give him a treat? DON’T give in! It will only confuse your pup about what kind of behavior results in a reward. No matter how much begging he does, don’t give your cat or dog a treat until he deserves one.